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Pule'anga Tonga

CAPITAL: Nuku'alofa, Tongatapu

FLAG: The flag, adopted in 1862, is crimson with a cross of the same color mounted in a white square in the upper left corner.

ANTHEM: Koe Fasi Oe Tu'i Oe Otu Tonga (Tongan National Anthem) begins "'E 'Otua Mafimafi Ko homau 'Eiki Koe" ("O Almighty God above, Thou art our Lord and sure defense").

MONETARY UNIT: The Tongan pa'anga (t$) of 100 seniti is a paper currency at par with the Australian dollar. There are coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 seniti, and 1 and 2 Tongan pa'angas, and notes of ½. 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 pa'angas. t$1 = us$0.50720 (or us$1 = t$1.9716) as of 2004.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is the legal standard, but some imperial and local weights and measures also are employed.

HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; ANZAC Day, 25 April; Crown Prince's Birthday, 4 May; Independence Day, 4 June; King's Birthday, 4 July; Constitution Day, 4 November; Tupou I Day, 4 December; Christmas, 25 – 26 December. Movable religious holidays include Good Friday and Easter Monday.

TIME: 1 am (the following day) = noon GMT.


The Tonga archipelago, also known as the Friendly Islands, lies scattered east of Fiji in the South Pacific Ocean. Nuku'alofa, the capital, is about 690 km (430 mi) from Suva, Fiji, and about 1,770 km (1,100 mi) from Auckland, New Zealand. Consisting of 171 islands of various sizes, only 45 of which are inhabited, Tonga has a total area of 748 sq km (289 sq mi), including inland waters as well as Teleki Tokelau and Teleki Tonga (formerly the Minerva Reefs). Comparatively, the area occupied by Tonga is slightly more than four times the size of Washington, DC. It extends 631 km (392 mi) nne – ssw and 209 km (130 mi) ese – wnw. The major islands are Tongatapu and 'Eua, Ha'apai, Vava'u, Niuatoputapu and Tafahi, and Niuafo'ou. Tonga's total coastline is about 419 km (260 mi).

The capital city of Nuku'alofa is located on Tongatapu.


The islands run roughly north – south in two parallel chains; the western islands are volcanic and the eastern are coralline encircled by reefs. At 10,800 m (35,400 ft) deep, the Tonga Trench is one of the lowest parts of the ocean floor. The soil on the low-lying coral islands is porous, being a shallow layer of red volcanic ash, devoid of quartz, but containing broken-down limestone particles.

The volcanic islands range in height to a maximum of 1,033 m (3,389 ft) on Kao. Fonuafo'ou (formerly Falcon Island), about 65 km (40 mi) northwest of Nuku'alofa, is famous for its periodic submergences and reappearances, as a result of earthquakes and volcanic action. There are few lakes or streams. Tofua, Vava'u, Nomuka, and Niuafo'ou each have a lake, and there are creeks on 'Eua and one stream on Niuatoputapu. Other islands rely on wells and the storage of rainwater to maintain a water supply.


The climate of Tonga is basically subtropical. Because the islands are in the southeast trade wind area, the climate is cooler from May to December, when the temperature seldom rises above 27 ° c (81 ° f). The mean annual temperature is 23 ° c (73 ° f), ranging from an average daily minimum of 10 ° c (50 ° f) in winter to an average maximum of 32 ° c (90 ° f) in summer. Average annual rainfall, most of which occurs from December to March during the hot season, is 160 cm (63 in) on Tongatapu, 257 cm (101 in) on Niuatoputapu, and 221 cm (87 in) on Vava'u. The mean relative humidity is 80%.


Some original forest growth can be found on islands in the Vava'u and Ha'apai groups. Tree species include coconut palms, and paper mulberry. Tropical bushes and flowers are abundant, including hibiscus and datura. A wide variety of fish are found in the coastal waters. Tonga is famous for its flying foxes.


Agricultural activities in Tonga are exhausting the fertility of the soil. The forest area is declining because of land clearing, and attempts at reforestation have had limited success. Water pollution is also a significant problem due to salinization, sewage, and toxic chemicals from farming activities. The impurity of the water supply contributes to the spread of disease. The nation is also vulnerable to cyclones, flooding, earthquakes, and drought. The government has established a Water Master Plan to manage the nation's water resources for two decades. The National Development Plan is a more comprehensive attempt to address the nation's environmental concerns.

According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), threatened species included two types of mammals, three species of birds, two types of reptiles, four species of fish, two types of mollusks, and three species of plants. The Fiji banded iguana, and the loggerhead, green sea, and hawksbill turtles are endangered. The Tonga ground skink has become extinct. There has been some damage to the nation's coral reefs from starfish and from coral and shell collectors. Overhunting threatens the native sea turtle populations.


The population of Tonga in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 102,000, which placed it at number 178 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 5% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 39% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 104 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 2005 – 10 was expected to be 1.8%, a rate the government viewed as satisfactory. Although the fertility rate was reported to be 3.9 births per woman, which was relatively high, ongoing emigration keeps the overall population growth rate lower. The projected population for the year 2025 was 137,000. The overall population density was 136 per sq km (352 per sq mi), but only 45 of the nation's 171 islands are inhabited.

The UN estimated that 33% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 1.90%. The capital city, Nuku'alofa, Tongatapu, had a population of 35,000 in that year. Two-thirds of the population live on the island of Tongatapu.


There is considerable movement toward the larger towns as population pressure on agricultural land increases. Some ethnic non-Tongans born on the islands migrate mainly to Fiji and New Zealand. Emigration by Tongan workers, both skilled and unskilled, has long been of concern to the government. In 1989 approximately 39,400 Tongans lived in the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. There are expatriate Tongan communities in Brisbane and Sydney (Australia), Auckland (New Zealand), San Francisco (United States), and on Hawaii. Persons wishing to reside in Tonga must obtain a government permit; permission is granted only to those taking up approved employment. Immigrant settlement is not encouraged because of the land shortage. There were an estimated 2,000 migrants in Tonga in the year 2000. In that same year the total population of Tongans in the United States was 17,270. Emigration is a significant factor in the economy due to large in-flows of remittances. In 2002 worker remittances were $65 million. The net migration rate in 2005 was estimated as zero migrants per 1,000 population. The government views the migration levels as satisfactory.


The Tongans are a racially homogeneous Polynesian people. Less than 2% of the population is of European, part-European, Chinese, or non-Tongan Pacific island origin.


Tongan, a Polynesian language not written down until the 19th century, is the language of the kingdom, but government publications are issued in both Tongan and English, and English is taught as a second language in the schools.


Over 98% of Tongans are Christian. According to the last official census in 1996, 41% of the population were members of the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga (Methodist), 16% were Roman Catholics, 14% were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 12% were of the Free Church of Tonga, and 17% belonged to other churches, including Seventh-Day Adventists, the Assembly of God, the Tokaikolo Church (a local offshoot of the Methodist Church), Anglicans, Baha'is, Muslims, and Hindus.

Though freedom of religion is provided for in the constitution and there is no state religion, the constitution does also stipulate that Sunday is the official Sabbath day. As such, the government restricts the operation of a large number of businesses on Sunday. The Tongan Broadcasting Commission also maintains a policy which restricts broadcasts of any religious tenets that are not within the mainstream Christian tradition.


In 2002, Tonga had 680 km (423 mi) of roadways, of which 184 km (114 mi) were paved. There are no bridges in Tonga, but three islands in the Vava'u group are connected by two causeways. Tonga has no railways.

Nuku'alofa and Neiafu are the ports of entry for overseas vessels. In 2005, the merchant fleet consisted of 29 ships of 1,000 GRT or more, some of them foreign owned and registered as a flag of convenience, totaling 136,977 GRT. Work on extending the port at Nuku'alofa began in 1985. The Pacific Forum Line and the Warner Pacific Line maintain scheduled service from Australia and New Zealand to Tonga via the Samoas and other islands, and cargo ships visit the group from time to time for shipments of copra. Internal sea connections are maintained by the Polynesia Triangle and by the Shipping Corp. of Polynesia.

In 2004, there were an estimated six airports, but only one of which (as of 2005), had a paved runway. Fua'Amotu International at Tongatapu is Tonga's principal airport. Air Pacific, Air New Zealand, Polynesian Airlines, and Hawaiian Air operate scheduled international flights from Fua'Amotu. The government-owned Friendly Island Airways has scheduled flights between Tongatapu, Ha'apai, 'Eua, Vava'u, and Niuatoputapu. In 2001 (the latest year for which data was available), about 56,800 passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international airline flights.


Since the Tongan language was not written down until the 19th century, the early history of Tonga (which means "south") is based on oral tradition. Hereditary absolute kings (Tu'i Tonga) date back to Ahoeitu in the 10th century. Around the 14th century, the twenty-third king, Kau'ulufonua, while retaining his sacred powers, divested himself of much of his executive authority, transferring it to his brother Ma'ungamotu'a, whom he thereafter called the Tu'i Ha'atakalaua. About the middle of the 17th century, the seventh temporal king, Fotofili, transferred the executive power to his brother Ngala, called the Tu'i Kanokupolu, and thereafter the powers gradually passed into the hands of the latter and his descendants. According to tradition, in the mid-19th century, upon the death of the then Tu'i Tonga, those powers were conferred upon the 19th Tu'i Kanokupolu, Taufa'ahu Tupou, founder of the present dynasty.

European chronicles disclose that the island of Niuatoputapu was discovered by the Dutch navigators Jan Schouten and Jacob le Maire in 1616. In 1643, Abel Tasman discovered Tongatapu, and from then until 1767, when Samuel Wallis anchored at Niuatoputapu, there was no contact with the outside world. Capt. James Cook visited the Tongatapu and Ha'apai groups in 1773 and again in 1777, and called Lifuka in the Ha'apai group the "friendly island" because of the gentle nature of its people — hence the archipelago received its nickname, the Friendly Islands. It was in the waters of the Ha'apai group that the famous mutiny on the British ship Bounty occurred in 1789. The first Wesleyan missionaries landed in Tonga in 1826.

The first half of the 19th century was a period of civil conflict in Tonga, as three lines of kings all sought dominance. They were finally checked during the reign of Taufa'ahu Tupou, who in 1831 took the name George. By conquest, George Tupou I (r.1845 – 93) gathered all power in his own hands and united the islands; he abolished the feudal system of land tenure and became a constitutional monarch in 1875. Meanwhile, by the middle of the century, most Tongans had become Christians, the great majority being Wesleyans, and the king himself was strongly influenced by the missionaries.

In the latter part of the century, there were religious and civil conflicts between the Wesleyan Mission Church and the newly established Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga. After the dismissal of the prime minister, the Rev. Shirley Waldemar Baker, in 1890, the new government allowed full freedom of worship. Ten years later, during the reign (1893 – 1918) of George II, a treaty of friendship was concluded between the United Kingdom and Tonga, and a protectorate was proclaimed. During World War II, Tongan soldiers under Allied command fought the Japanese in the Solomon Islands, and New Zealand and US forces were stationed on Tongatapu, which served as an important shipping point.

Two more treaties of friendship between the United Kingdom and Tonga were signed in 1958 and 1968, according to which Tonga remained under British protection, but with full freedom in internal affairs. On 4 June 1970, Tonga ceased being a British protectorate and became an independent member of the Commonwealth of Nations, with King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV — who had succeeded to the throne upon the death of his mother, Queen Salote Tupou (r.1918 – 65) — as head of state. The new status brought few immediate changes, apart from the fact that it added Tongan control of foreign affairs to self-rule in domestic matters.

In 1972, Tonga claimed the uninhabited Minerva Reefs (now Teleki Tokelau and Teleki Tonga), situated about 480 km (300 mi) southwest of Nuku'alofa, in order to prevent an Anglo-American corporation from founding an independent Republic of Minerva on the reefs in order to gain certain tax advantages.

Many of the government's strongest critics gained seats in the 1987 legislative elections; the unprecedented turnover was thought to reflect changing attitudes toward traditional authority. However, the traditional leaders continued in charge of the government, with Prince Fatafehi Tu'ipelehake elected as prime minister. The island's dissident pro-democracy movement, led by Akilisi Pohive, won the February 1990 general election, but it remained a minority within the legislature. A government scandal over selling Tongan passports to Hong Kong Chinese led to popular support for the opposition. Baron Vaea replaced Prince Fatafehi Tu'ipelehake as prime minister in August 1991. King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV organized the Christian Democratic Party in time for the 1993 election to provide greater coordination for his supporters and to weaken the democracy movement. However, pressure from the pro-democracy forces continued in the February 1993 general election when the People's Democratic Movement won six of the nine open seats.

Parliamentary elections were held in March 1999, when about 51% of eligible voters cast ballots, the lowest voter turnout in the country's history. Five of the nine members elected were from the Human Rights and Democracy Movement (HRDM). King Taufa'ahu Tupou IV appointed his youngest son, 41-year-old Prince Lavaka Ata Ulukalala prime minister in January 2000. When the previous prime minister retired, observers speculated that the king's oldest son, Crown Prince Tupouto'a, would be named prime minister. It is likely that Tupouto'a was passed over for the post because of his stated opposition to preserving the king's right to make lifetime appointments. His younger brother, who became the country's fourth prime minister since 1950, has been outspoken in his criticism of the country's democracy movement.

Fifty-two candidates ran for the nine people's representative seats in the legislature in March 2002; the HRDM won

seven of the seats. In the 2005 elections, the HRDM took 70% of the vote and 7 of 9 open seats. Although the movement's improvement in electoral standing may signal popular support for democratic reform, it is seen as the king's prerogative to initiate change.

Tonga experienced a financial scandal in 2001, when the king's official court jester, Jesse Bogdonoff, an American businessman, invested $26 million in a government trust fund that subsequently disappeared. The money had been raised by the sale of Tongan citizenship and special passports to Asians, especially Hong Kong Chinese concerned with the transfer of Hong Kong to China. The $26 million represented more than half the government's annual budget. The Tongan government's lawsuit against Bogdonoff was settled in 2004.

On 22 July 2005, public workers declared Tonga's first national strike. The 47 day strike ended in early September, when the chairman of the Public Servants Association presented the king with a petition calling him to dismiss Prime Minister Prince Ulukalala Lavaka Ata and all 14 cabinet ministers. The petition also demanded a commission be established to review the constitution within one year, and called for a more democratic form of government, as well as the return of royal family-controlled government assets, including the internet domain address and the power company.

In October 2005 parliament voted to establish the National Committee of the Kingdom of Tonga for Political Reforms, with the goal of examining and improving Tonga's form of government. Committee members were to be drawn from the executive and legislative (both noble and commoner) branches of the government, as well as from the nongovernmental population.

On 15 December 2005, after 10 years of membership talks, Tonga became the 150th member of the World Trade Organization. As part of its accession agreement, Tonga agreed to cut its import tariffs and to open many of its vital services to foreign companies.


Tonga is an independent kingdom. According to the constitution of 1875, as amended, the government is divided into three main branches: the sovereign, Privy Council, and cabinet; the Fale Alea (Legislative Assembly); and the judiciary. The King-in-Council is the chief executive body, and the cabinet, presided over by the appointed prime minister, makes executive decisions of lesser importance. The prime minister is appointed for a life term. Law-making power is vested in the 30-member Legislative Assembly, which consists of 12 members of the cabinet sitting ex officio, 9 nobles elected to three-year terms by the 33 hereditary nobles of Tonga, and 9 representatives popularly elected to three-year terms. Sessions must be held at least once in every calendar year. Legislation passed by the Privy Council is subject to approval at the next meeting of the Legislative Assembly. Women voted for the first time in 1960, and the first woman was elected to the legislature in 1975. All literate citizens 21 years of age or older are eligible to vote.

In November 2003, the king approved amendments to Clause 7 of the constitution, which limited the press, thus effectively reducing freedom of speech. In October 2004, Chief Justice Webster found these amendments to be inconsistent with Clause 7, and therefore unconstitutional.

The next elections were to be held in 2008.


The Tonga People's Party (TPP), led by Viliami Fukofuka, and the pro-democracy Human Rights and Democracy Movements (HRDM), led by 'Akilisi Pohiva were the principal political parties active in 2003.


The islands are divided administratively into three districts: Vava'u in the north, Ha'apai in the center, and Tongatapu in the south. Ha'apai, Vava'u, and the outlying islands are administered by governors who are members of the Privy Council and are responsible to the prime minister. Minor officials perform statutory duties in the villages. Town and district officials have been popularly elected since 1965. They represent the central government in the villages; the district official has authority only over a group of villages.

Titles of nobility were first bestowed in 1875, and later in 1882, 1887, 1903, and 1923. With the hereditary titles were granted villages and lands.


The Supreme Court exercises jurisdiction in major civil and criminal cases. Other cases, heard in the Magistrate's Court or the Land Court, may be appealed to the Supreme Court and then to the Court of Appeal, the appellate court of last resort. The Privy Council has jurisdiction over cases on appeal from the Land Court dealing with titles of nobility and estate boundaries. With the ratification of the 1968 friendship treaty, UK extraterritorial jurisdiction lapsed, and British and other foreign nations became fully subject to the jurisdiction of the Tongan courts. The judiciary is independent of the king and the executive branch, although Supreme Court justices are appointed by the king. Criminal defendants are afforded the right to counsel and the right to a fair public trial is protected by law and honored in practice. The king may commute a death sentence. In addition, the court system consists of a court martial for the Tonga Defense Services, a court tribunal for the police force, and a court of review for the Inland Revenue Department.


The Tonga Defense Force was organized during World War II, became defunct in 1946 and was reactivated in 1952. It consists of a regular cadre and volunteers serving an initial training period, followed by attendance at annual training camps. Forces are organized into marines, royal guards, a navy, a police force, and a newly created air wing. The naval squadron consists of several fast patrol boats policing territorial waters.


Tonga was admitted to the United Nations on 14 September 1999. It participates in ESCAP and several nonregional specialized agencies, such as the FAO, UNCTAD, UNESCO, the World Bank, and WHO. Tonga is also a member of the Asian Development Bank, the Commonwealth of Nations, the ACP Group, G-77, the South Pacific Regional Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement (Sparteca), the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), and Pacific Island Forum (formally called the South Pacific Forum). It has observe status in the WTO.

In environmental cooperation, Tonga is part of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the London Convention, the Montr é al Protocol, MARPOL, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea, Climate Change, and Desertification.


The economy is largely agricultural and still contains a substantial nonmonetary sector. The principal cash crops are squash, fish, copra and coconut products, vanilla bean extract and bananas. Agricultural exports make up two-thirds of total exports. One third to one half of export earnings come from the sale of squash to Japan, though the main source of foreign exchange is remittances, followed by tourism. A proportion of food is imported and the economy remains dependent on external aid and remittances from expatriate Tongalese to offset its chronic trade deficit. It is estimated that there are more expatriates (over 100,000) than current citizens. Real GDP growth, which had peaked at 6.5% in fiscal year 1999/2000, fell to 0.5% in 2000/01, attributable to the global economic slowdown, and, in particular, its impact on tourism. The GDP growth rate in 2002 stood at 1.5% and at 1.9% in 2003.

In 2002, the year was ushered in by Tonga's worst cyclone since 1961, Cyclone Waka, which tore through the northern islands of Niuafo'ou and Vava'u on 30 – 31 December 2001, destroying an estimated 90% of the crops. About 350 homes were destroyed, with another 750 homes, 23 schools, and numerous hospitals, churches, and other structures seriously damaged. Water supply, electricity, and communications were also severely disrupted, with total damage estimated at $50 million. Donor countries — principally New Zealand, Australia, French Polynesia, and the United States — responded with food aid and emergency assistance, as did several missions and charities. The government lifted import duties on construction materials. The net result was a slight uptick in real GDP growth in 2001/2001 to 1.5% despite the cyclone damage due to the stimulus given the construction industry as well as record high prices for squash and vanilla beans.

Another economic shock in 2002 was the discovery of the loss of most of the assets (about $26.5 million) from the Tonga Trust Fund (TTF) through failed investments and, perhaps, simple fraud, while under management by American businessmen. The assets came primarily from selling Tongan passports to nervous residents of Hong Kong before its reversion to Chinese rule in 1997.


The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Tonga's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $244.0 million. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $2,300. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 1.5%. The average inflation rate in 2002 was 10.3%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 23% of GDP, industry 13%, and services 64%.

According to the World Bank, in 2002 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled $62 million or about $611 per capita and accounted for approximately 42.7% of GDP.


Tonga's labor force in 1996, the last year reported, was 33,910. As of 1997 (the latest year for which data was available), approximately 65% of the workforce was engaged in agriculture. The unemployment rate in 1996 (the latest year for which data was available) was estimated at 13.3%.

The government has issued a labor code establishing a wage structure, a system of job classification, and provisions for workers' compensation. Holidays are prescribed by law. According to the constitution, it is not lawful to work, to play games, or to engage in trade on Sunday. Workers have the right, in theory, to form unions under the 1964 Trade Union Act, but as of 2002, none had been formed. Various government agencies and public enterprises offer vocational training.

Child labor is not used in the wage sector and is virtually nonexistent throughout the economy. The workweek is limited to 40 hours. There is no set minimum wage. Generally, labors laws are well enforced on the main island of Tongatapu but are more inconsistently enforced on the outer islands.


About 36% of Tonga is agricultural land, including small amounts of permanent pasture. With increasing population pressure on the land, more land is being intensively cultivated and less is available for fallow. The use of fertilizers, high-protein strains of corn, and similar methods to improve the efficiency of land use has become increasingly necessary.

According to the constitution of 1875, all the land in the kingdom belongs to the crown and cannot be alienated. Much of it, however, consists of hereditary estates that were bestowed upon various chiefs, who lease the lands to farmers at a nominal annual rent. Since 1890, the crown has been responsible for the collection of rents and the granting of allotments.

On reaching the age of 16, every Tongan male taxpayer is entitled under the constitution to a tax allotment of one api (3.34 hectares/8.25 acres). These allotments are hereditary, pass from generation to generation in accordance with the law of succession, and may not be sold. A tenant may be ejected for nonpayment of rent or for failing to comply with the planting regulations, under which every Tongan holder of a tax allotment is legally required to plant 200 coconut trees, which he must keep free from weeds. In recent years, however, population increases have made it impossible to guarantee the api to all those entitled to one.

Principal subsistence crops are yams, taro, sweet potatoes, and manioc. Estimated production in 2004 included coconuts, 58,000 tons; sweet potatoes, 6,000 tons; cassava, 9,000 tons; oranges, 1,000 tons; and bananas, 700 tons. Vanilla beans have become an important cash crop (130 tons in 2004), especially on Vava'u. Agricultural products accounted for 45% of exports in 2004.


Beef cattle are generally kept for grazing in coconut plantations to keep the undergrowth in check and to provide additional income. Every householder has several hogs, which generally are not sold but are used for feasts. Sheep were brought into Tonga in 1954 but did not thrive, and in 1956 the entire flock was slaughtered. Livestock in 2005 included 81,000 hogs, 12,500 goats, 11,400 horses, and 11,250 head of cattle.


Fish are abundant in the coastal waters, but the fishing industry is relatively undeveloped, and the supply of fish is insufficient to meet local demand; thus, canned fish has been imported in recent years. Principal species caught are tuna and marlin. The fish catch was 4,458 tons in 2003; exports of fish products were valued at almost $3.56 million that year.


Forestland covers about 5.5% of Tonga's total area, mainly on 'Eua and Vava'u, but this diminishing resource has not been efficiently exploited, and much wood for construction must be imported. Roundwood production in 2004 was 2,100 cu m (74,000 cu ft). There is a government sawmill on 'Eua. Charcoal is manufactured from logs and coconut shells.


Tonga had few known mineral resources. A limited amount of crushed stone is produced at local quarries.


Tonga has no proven reserves of oil, natural gas, coal or oil refining capacity.

Tonga is entirely dependent upon imports of oil, natural gas or coal to meet its hydrocarbon needs. In 2002, the country's imports and consumption of refined petroleum products each averaged 780 barrels per day. There were no recorded imports or consumption of natural gas or coal in 2002.

Tonga's primary energy source is electricity, all of it powered by fossil fuels. In 2002, the country's electric generating capacity totaled 0.008 million kW. Electric power output in that year totaled 0.034 billion kWh. Demand for electric power in 2002 was 0.032 billion kWh.


Encouragement of new industries was the goal of Tonga's eight five-year plans (1966 – 2008). Industries include the manufacture of concrete blocks, metal products, woolen knitwear, leather goods, furniture, soft drinks, soap, sports equipment, yachts, and paint. Ten-meter (33-foot) epoxy-veneer molded yachts are produced by Marine Tonga, a Tongan-German joint venture. At the government-backed Small Industry Center in Nuku'alofa, more advanced products are made, including refrigerators, jewelry, bicycles, toys, furniture, wheelbarrows, and mini-excavators; other consumer goods are assembled for use locally and in neighboring countries. A small but growing construction sector developed in response to the inflow of relief monies following Cyclone Waka, which hit during the last two days of 2001, and the need for construction services for hospitals, schools, wharves, etc. Long-established industries are coconut processing, sawmilling, and local handicrafts. Nuku'alofa is the only commercial and urban center. Industry accounts for just 13% of GDP.


Hango Agricultural College, part of the Free Wesleyan Church Education System, offers diploma and certificate courses. Tonga Maritime Polytechnical Institute is located in Nuku'alofa.


Village stores carry a stock of flour, sugar, canned meats, textiles, hardware, soap, kerosene, tobacco, and matches; in the larger towns, these shops are managed by Tongans for European trading firms. Storekeepers act as agents for the Commodities Board and often extend credit to their customers until the end of the harvest. The board's produce division helps market bananas, melons, and pineapples. The development of cooperatives, which serve as savings-and-loan, produce-marketing, and handicraft-manufacturing organizations, has been actively pursued.

Government business hours are 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, Monday to Friday. Private business hours are 9 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday.

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